In the Christian tradition I come from, the “retreat” was considered a high point of the spiritual life. To retreat was to withdraw from busyness and normality and seek God wholeheartedly, either alone or together with others, with the purpose of refocusing on what was important and redefining my identity as a Christian disciple.
A big part of this re-definition was to create a strengthened distinction between “us” and “them”. The more “Christian” I became, the less “worldly”. This move called “sanctification” is important for growth, but eventually presents it shadow side – exclusion. Words like “unbeliever”, “Gentile”, “heathen”, “heretic”, “infidel” and “kafir” testify to monotheism’s darker undersides.
And so I am rising to the challenge and joining the Open Mosque’s Interfaith Retreat for Christians, Muslims and Jews. The “retreat” is being radically revamped, and no longer retains its exalted and often excluding position. Instead, in a bold move, we are invited to a “third space”, the exact meaning of which is unknown. This, at least to me, is exciting.
And to my dear not-monotheists friends, don’t feel left out, you have a huge role to play; please bear with a bit of Abrahamic housekeeping.
The Open Mosque Inaugural Interfaith Retreat will take place between the 16th and 18th September 2016, in Greyton, Western Cape, South Africa. Still places open, especially to Christians. To take part, see the website of The Open Mosque.